When it comes to personal management tools, I’m still back in the 20th century.
As I type this, before me on my desk I have my journal where I handwrite my daily “to-do” list. And on top of the journal I have a small day planner; you know the kind that businesses give away for free to promote their services. When you open it up, you can see one week at a glance. Normally I purchase a larger month at a glance calendar, but thought I’d give this freebie a try for this year.
Aside from the calendar and the journal, I have two master lists. In a big purple, five subject notebook, I monitor specific goals and targets I have for the next three years. I refer to this list about once a week or at the least every two. When I visit the purple book, I note the date. My second master list is on a clipboard where I record current long-term and ongoing projects. This list is for reference only. It rarely changes and I don’t write on it.
So that my husband and I are in sync with what is going on with the children, we have a wall calendar for doctor’s appointments, school trips and other activities. And like most families we post stuff on the refrigerator such as school closings and important phone numbers.
In other words, my lists are all over the place. As a writer who loves journaling and keeping records by hand, I don’t mind working with pens and notebooks. However, I have to admit my methodology is so last century!
For those who want to stay organized using technology, but don’t want to invest in pricey PDAs (personal digital assistants), the internet offers dozens of free alternatives. I’ve attached a few links to the end of this article. As I said, I’m still a pen and paper kind of person, so I haven’t tried any of these services. I did however find a few interesting sites while researching this article. Cozi.com looked useful as a planning and organizational tool for families and Girlawhirl.com made me feel like I was within the pages of hip women’s magazine.
Mindtools.com has a very good article on the importance of using To-Do lists as a way to alleviate stress. “By keeping a To-Do List, you make sure that you capture all of the tasks you have to complete in one place,” the website says. “Without To-Do Lists, you'll seem dizzy, unfocused and unreliable to the people around you. With To-Do Lists, you'll be much better organized and much more reliable.” Mindtools.com also offers a To Do List template for download.
An article on Solutionwatch.com called “25 To Do Lists to Stay Productive” offers reviews of online productivity software. “There are a few things I look for when working with an online to do list,” writes Brian Benzinger for Solutionwatch.com. “I like the service to be clean and organized displaying uncompleted/completed tasks. It also must allow for simple adding and editing of tasks. And lastly, don’t hate me for this, but if I am going to be using this to do list every day for who knows how long, it must be attractive.”
If I heard it once, I’ve heard it 100 times, successful people are list makers. While Benzinger likes his lists to be attractive, I want mine to be personalized works of art. So I’ll keep scribbling in my notebooks for now.